Bye, Bye VW Beetle

As marketers know, products have a life cycle that ranges from birth to decline. Every product eventually reaches its maturity stage where sales slow, and then it succumbs to a decline stage when the product is eliminated. Such is the case for virtually all products, including the indelible VW Beetle.

The Volkswagen Beetle has been around in some form since 1938, selling more than 24 million cars worldwide. The car was redesigned several times, most recently in the 1990s into the ‘new Beetle’. But now, VW has decided to pull the plug and will discontinue the iconic little car. As of 2020, no more ‘slug Bugs’ will be manufactured.

The Beetle was first introduced in the 1930s, designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the behest of Hitler and known as a “people’s car.” It has been immortalized in films such as Disney’s “The Love Bug” and was also known as a car for hippies hitting the road in the 1960s and 1970s. The Beetle had an iconic shape that was easily recognizable and has a front grill with headlight ‘eyes’ that looks like a smiling face. It’s easy to smile when looking at a Beetle.

There is a ‘final edition’ Beetle which sells for $23,000 – $27,000. And like all good things, there is an end.

R.I.P. VW Beetle. You will be missed.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the stages in the product life cycle. What are the marketing objectives in each stage?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team draw a product life cycle and place various products and services into each stage.
  3. Next, discuss the life cycle of automobiles and the VW Beetle.
  4. Visit the VW Web site at to view the final models: https://www.vw.com/models/beetle/section/overview/
  1. A video of VW Beetle manufacturing: https://youtu.be/McV7siceylU
  2. A farewell video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/uKuYXNLGlOc
  3. News video about the Beetle’s last ride: https://youtu.be/0C38YYmNiEQ
  4. Next, have students brainstorm on how to reposition or revise products/services to that they can move into an earlier stage of the life cycle or be reinvented for a new life.

Source:  Ad Age; Automobile Magazine; Business Insider; Car and Driver; Forbes; other news sources

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